The Duhks live at Triple Door in Seattle, WA (3/9/09)
The last time I saw the Duhks live was at Wintergrass in Tacoma a few years ago. (2006? The ol’ memory’s not so hot with dates.) It was well past midnight in the basement of the Radisson downtown. Jessee Havey was still in the band then, and she was a big part of the draw for me. Not only does she have a voice the size of Alberta, but the woman was a dynamo onstage.
When it was announced almost exactly two years ago that Havey was leaving the band, I had a brief moment of disappointment wondering what could become of the Duhks without her. What was I thinking? Banjo picker Leonard Podolak, guitarist Jordan McConnell, and fiddler Tania Elizabeth are nothing to shake a stick at. And, as evidenced by their set at the Triple Door this week, neither are drummer Christian Dugas and his sister, Havey’s replacement, Sarah Dugas.
She defintiely brings a different kind of energy to the stage than her predecessor, but it doesn’t slow the quintet down a bit. Elizabeth’s solos offered the tightest, finest highlights. The troupe’s gospel tunes – “True Religion” and show-closer “Death Came A Knockin'” – proved infectious and packed with energy. The crowd seemed to also enjoy Dugas’ “Sleeping Is All I Wanna Do (Stars on a Sunny Day)” and the title track from their latest disc, Fast Paced World.
The synergy between band members was charming and apparent, and Dugas’ voice proved to be just as big and powerful as much of the band’s compositions require. Podolak delivered exquisite solos on a handful of jigs from Migrations, but McConnell’s guitar was unfortunately way too quiet to tell how on or off the mark he was for much of the show. There’s always something.